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Looking after LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN Sharing emerging practice


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Contents

Foreword 4 Introduction: the mental health needs of looked after children 5

Selected services Darlington CLASP Learning from CLASP What young people had to say about the service

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The Maple service Learning from Maple

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Manchester Link Why it works What foster carers had to say

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Lionmede centre Essex corporate parenting

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Camden MALT Learning from Camden MALT

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Solihull LAATCH and CHESS services What has worked

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Successful service? What young people think is important

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Contacts

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LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN

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An exemplar Introduction There is now an increasing awareness of the high level of mental health needs of looked after children. This is reflected in the policy perspectives and guidance in the National Service Framework for children (NSF), Care Matters, and Every Child Matters. Increased funding has been made available to put these agendas into practice. With the development of Children’s Trusts and partnership working come new opportunities for joint working, and a chance to reflect on current provision and develop creative responses to building services aimed at addressing these needs. This publication aims to address the particular issues of how in practice to work with children and their carers to promote children’s positive mental health and to tackle more persistent difficulties.

Rates of mental health disorder are between four and five times higher amongst looked after children compared to children in the general population (ONS 2003). Children in care have less success in the education system than their peers and are far less likely to go on to university. Between a quarter and a half of rough sleepers have been in care, and around half of adults in prison spent some time in care as children. The reasons for this are complex, relating to children’s experiences before they enter the care system as well as to the trauma of separation from their families, and sometimes communities, whilst in care. We know that improving the mental health of children also has a positive impact on their ability to form positive relationships with peers and adults, their success at school and a whole range of outcomes as adults. Despite all these challenges, we know that children in care can show incredible resilience and achieve success in many ways and that for some children, care can be a safer place than home.

“Primary Care Trusts and Local Authorities ensure that local needs assessments identify … looked after children … and that services are in place to meet their needs.” (National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (NSF) DH 2004)

“Although outcomes for children in care have improved in recent years, there remains a significant and widening gap between these and the outcomes for all children. This situation is unacceptable and needs to be addressed urgently.’’ (Care Matters DfES 2006)

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Improving the mental health and emotional well being of children in care has been given higher priority in recent years and the need for dedicated services for children and their carers has been recognised.

is that other providers and commissioners can learn from their successes and the challenges they experienced along the way. This exemplar is intended to assist in the reflection and review of local services.

This exemplar aims to illustrate some of the many examples of how child and adolescent mental health services working in partnership with children and their carers and other professionals can improve outcomes for children. There is no one ‘model’ service but the examples aim to illustrate a range of evidence-based and creative approaches. These services recognise the challenge of meeting the diverse needs of children in care and the importance of working closely with foster carers, residential workers, social workers and teachers, as well as directly with children and young people themselves.

The hardest element in producing this exemplar has been to shortlist a handful of services to detail here. There were so many innovative services to choose from, many of which contributed to regional and national events during 2006/2007, and we would like to thank everyone who gave us their time in this process. The selection was made on the basis of recognised good practice, a variety of service models and also a geographical spread.

YoungMinds, in partnership with the National CAMHS Support Service, have produced this exemplar to showcase some of the services that have successfully risen to this challenge. The hope

These services demonstrate that a flexible approach and a passion for children and young people’s potential, can result in services which really do improve outcomes for children and young people. We hope this exemplar inspires you.

“The factors which lead to a child entering the care system tend to be the same factors which can lead to mental health problems .... Progress has been made in providing appropriate, accessible CAMHS for children in care and their carers, but further work is needed to ensure that this progress is maintained and extended.” (Promoting the Mental Health and Psychological Well-being of Children and Young People. Report on the Implementation of Standard 9 of the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services)

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DARLINGTON CLASP

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About the service The Children Looked After Special Project (CLASP) began in 2002 with one post, jointly funded by social services and the Primary Care Trust (PCT) and managed through a multi-agency committee. Since that date, CLASP has developed into a service that emphasises flexible and individual ways of working based around the needs and interests of the child, of ‘getting alongside’ the young people and seeing the potential behind the inevitable difficulties along the way. Both short-term and long-term support are available, with the team drawing upon many different theoretical approaches, including systemic thinking, attachment work and play work with younger children. According to the consultant psychiatrist working on the project, “CLASP uses CAMHS models, but is not constrained by them. CLASP is more about human-to-human contact, it relates to the people behind the problems and has led to a real improvement for children and young people, evidenced by their increased confidence, humour and success”. Another fundamental principle underlying CLASP is to regularly consult with young people and to involve them in the development of the project. As the CLASP Team Leader explained, young people have been involved from the outset, “We held focus groups to start with, but as time has gone on, the mechanisms have become established locally for gaining their views. The Saturday Arts Project has been very successful, and ideas now emerge in a more meaningful way, so the young people feel it is fairer. It’s a more informal consultative process ... and the newsletter is an important way of sharing information and ideas, and the young people can be credited in that if they wish to be”.

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The initial impetus for the development of CLASP was the retirement of a long-serving social worker within the CAMHS team in 2001. Health and Social Services managers saw the opportunity to develop specific support for looked after children and took it. There was already a multi-agency umbrella group that had funded a successful project with children and young people who had been abused, and it was to this group that Darlington looked to for the funding of this new post. The Assistant Director of Social Services and the Consultant Child Psychiatrist wrote a paper highlighting that the specific needs of looked after children had been largely unmet and making the case for a post dedicated to working with this client group. This was helped by the fact that the needs of looked after children were becoming more prominent on the agenda nationally. Since 2002, additional funding has been made available from the CAMHS grant and CLASP has expanded to include a mental health nurse, clinical psychology time and medical sessions. The different disciplines, with separate professional backgrounds, training, experience, gender and life experiences, are thought to be helpful in providing a service able to work with children and young people with very diverse needs. CLASP also now offers consultation to the network of professionals involved with looked after children. The theoretical stance is that of systems thinking with the child at the centre and consideration of how and why problems may be maintained. This area of the service is highly valued, with some of the professionals who have used the consultation process reporting that it gave them thinking space, an opportunity to look at things differently, a time to reflect and new ideas.


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Learning from CLASP I

The service is accessible and there is no waiting list. This is felt to be due to the way clinical and developmental work run side by side.

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“The Saturday Arts Project has been very successful, and ideas now emerge in a more meaningful way, so the young people feel it is fairer.”

Liaison between services is a central feature of the way CLASP works. For example, regular liaison between the nurse and children’s homes mean that the nurse is already known to most looked after children.

I Networking with other professionals is a priority. When the whole system works together there is a better outcome for the child. There is less duplication of work, and the young person doesn’t have to keep retelling their story, which feels more respectful. I

Work with carers is an important element. They are important partners in the child’s care, and need to understand and be involved in the process of change. Sometimes changing their attitude and approach to a problem gives the child space to change and develop at their own pace. Developing the skills of both carers and professionals is believed to have had an impact. I

Offers long-term work, if necessary. The need for long-term work with this group of children and young people has been recognised and supported from the outset.

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Uses other local resources for children and young people. This allows looked after children to mix with other young people in the area, thereby helping to address the isolation and marginalisation that often affects looked after young people.

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Staff stability is seen as an important factor in CLASP’s success , and as such provides a stable person for the young person during times of change. It is thought that grading the staff posts at a realistically high level has been instrumental in recruiting and maintaining a cohesive, motivated staff group, also that the service has strong leadership, providing focus and vision.

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Staff supervision is given priority. The access to a range of supervision is thought to encourage team members to ‘think outside the box’, to develop a wider understanding and to think creatively. I Evaluation has been built into development of the service. There has been a focus one aspect of work at a time, with each development evaluated, and staff increased as each need was demonstrated.

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Young people’s view of CLASP What helped was getting out, getting away from things and chilling out. It’s good to talk to someone about your problems. He listens to where I’m at and understands how I feel. I used to be depressed, and I self harmed, it helped to talk and get help. Afterward I felt relieved to have got it off my chest, I could stop worrying, knowing he would do what needed to be done. If I hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’d be on a psychiatric ward, or dead. Now I’m in college, and looking forward to university, and a career as a children’s nurse. Trust is the main thing. I got involved in an arts project. Art is a good way to get your emotions out. I wrote, produced and directed a film. It was good. He acted on my side, I’d no-one else.

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About the service The Maple Service is an inter-agency provision, offering a specialist resource to 10-18 year-olds in Dorset, who have serious mental health, emotional and/or behavioural problems and who may also have had difficulties in engaging with mainstream education, CAMHS and social services resources. Commissioned via a group comprised of a manager from Dorset Healthcare Trust, representatives from the three local authorities of Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset and a senior manager for CAMHS and learning disabilities, the Maple Centre is an example of a service that has moved away from the clinic-based approach of many CAMHS towards provision that: I Emphasises outreach, seeing the young people in the community, at home, school or wherever they feel comfortable I Offers an intensive service. Young people can be seen every day from Monday to Friday, if necessary, although it is very rare for a young person to be seen daily, and some are seen three times a week I

Persists in trying to engage with the ‘hard to engage’ I Works with young people with conduct disorder (traditionally excluded from CAMHS).

In its present form, the service has existed for about five yearr; it developed out of a recognition that there was unmet need for adolescents with a conduct disorder and looked after children, who often failed to engage with traditional services. The aim is that by going into the community to engage with them, these groups of young people can be helped, and outcomes for them can be improved.

The services offered include: I

Direct work with the young people, their families and carers

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A consultation service to those in the systems around the young person, such as social workers, foster carers, parents and teachers I

Risk management, specifically for looked after children, where agencies may be concerned about the risk to the young person themselves, or to others

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Training, for example in self-harm, and eating disorders, for schools, adult services, the ASW course, social work staff, staff in local authority residential homes and private homes and for voluntary agencies.

The team’s flexible approach means that there is a danger of trying to be all things to all people, reaching out to young people who have failed to engage with other services.

THE MAPLE SERVICE

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The team’s specialist expertise has developed by working with young people who find it hard to engage with services, and by managing the high level of risk associated with these children. The team has worked with young people in unstable placements, helping them through change and crises, often working with them in an informal way and giving a high priority to the engagement process. Trust is very important, and once this has been established, the young person may move on to more formal therapies that the team offers.

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Young people’s participation Young people have been involved in: I

Producing a leaflet for young service users, explaining what to expect from contact with the Maple Centre.

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Choosing the dĂŠcor in the building.

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The production of the CAMHS leaflet.

There is a place on the governance group for a young person. Every year a questionnaire is sent to all the young people who have had contact with the service and with their carers, and at the point of closure. At present there is ongoing work to develop this to make it more measurable. The art work, and poems, written work that young people do in sessions also gives valuable feedback about what is helping them.

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MANCHESTER LINK

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About the service Established in 2003, the Manchester Link service covers the Manchester area and is an example of a CAMHS grant funded service. It has been developed as a partnership between children, families, education and CAMHS, and is accountable to a multi-agency steering group. The impetus behind the development of the service was two-fold: firstly, there was a wish to bring back into the local area a number of looked after children and young people who had been placed outside the city; secondly, there was a locally recognised need to provide better integration of service for young people with complex emotional, social and educational needs. This need was identified by a research project commissioned by a multi-agency group.

What the service offers

There are several strands to the provision offered: I I I I I I

Multi-agency assessments Assistance with case co-ordination and planning Individual therapeutic work Educational support, including individual and small group teaching Provision of therapeutic fostering placements Consultation

Individual therapeutic work is provided by people working in a range of disciplines including clinical psychology, psychiatry, and a team of therapeutic children’s workers. These staff see the children on a weekly or fortnightly basis, according to need, and are therefore able to build up a good relationship with the child/young person, to observe them in different aspects of their life and to feed their observations back into team discussions. They provide a stable point of contact for the child who may be experiencing many changes in other areas of their lives. Educational support is provided via the services of

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an educational psychologist and two teachers. There is a small classroom at the team base, where children whose needs were not being met in their school, for whatever reason, can be given shortterm education provision and where gaps can be assessed and met. Staff believe that for some ‘problem’ children, their inappropriate behaviours are a strategy to avoid admitting gaps in their basic education, such as poor reading skills. They recognise the need to be flexible in how they approach learning and try to be sensitive to the child’s needs and feelings. The aim is always to support a return to the most appropriate longterm educational setting. Fostering placements are offered via a small number of dedicated foster carers, who are seen as an integral part of the Link team. They offer a home and daily practical care to the young people, and are recruited, assessed and supported by the family placement worker. Using planned respite care is an essential support to the placements long term, and there are plans to recruit their own respite foster carers. However, this is taking time and in the meantime, the service uses agency foster carers who can develop a close relationships with the children they see regularly, and this has been found to be an essential element. The foster carers meet regularly with the rest of the team, and train together. All staff in the Manchester Link service are fully committed to working across disciplines and in a joined-up way to effectively meet these young people’s complex needs. The aim is to offer a holistic approach and children can remain in the service for as long as is necessary; flexibility of approach is also emphasised – as one staff member explained, there is a willingness to make changes in practice, sometimes outside staff comfort zones, since “Children’s needs don’t fit traditional models of working, so we need to be creative and flexible in our approach”.


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Why it works Feedback from foster carers in the Link service highlights the value of the backup offered by the staff team, the extensive network of professionals working together and perhaps most importantly, the sense of recognition that “Fostering here is a job of work, a profession, responsible for the child’s day-to-day care and long-term stability”. The more comprehensive nature of information provided before a child is placed is also thought to help “build a bigger picture, and that helps you care for the child”. Staff in the Link service identify the commitment from all partner agencies and the development of strong working links with all agencies in the local area as important factors in both the success of the service and also in ensuring that staff maintain their professional identities. Team members also note the value of having a dedicated Service Manager, a commitment to training and staff development and an ethos of using reflective practice to help bring about change.

“The support of the network is great. It’s like being in a big family really. We know each other informally as well as professionally.”

It is thought that the shared location – everyone working out of the same base – has been fundamental in developing a strong team ethos, shared language and good communication, underpinned by shared goals and vision. The size of the team has also been carefully considered – large enough to offer a comprehensive service and yet not too large, on the basis that close working relationships are key to the success of the service.

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MANCHESTER LINK What foster carers say “The difference is in the information you get before placement, and everyone is involved in giving you the information. It builds a bigger picture, and that helps you care for the child.” “We get 100% backup. There is always someone there at the end of a phone.” “Our child is learning to be a child again.” “We can’t fault Manchester Link. If we have a problem, all we have to do is ring, someone is always there, and they’ll always listen.” “The support of the network is great. It’s like being in a big family really. We know each other informally as well as professionally. There’s the sense that fostering here is a job of work, a profession, responsible for the child’s day-to-day care and long-term stability.” “The umbrella of Manchester Link has helped me explain his problems to school.” “If there is a down side it’s that there are lots of professionals from different backgrounds all with their own opinions, and no-one is in charge, so sometimes it feels as if things are over-discussed. It all takes time, and foster carers need to get used to this way of working.” “We can use the whole resource pool as appropriate.”

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About the service The main remit of the Lionmede Centre is to prevent placement disruption for looked after chldren, or if necessary to help a placement end with the best possible outcomes for the child. In addition to helping children in transition, the team supports professional workers and carers, whilst helping them to advise on the child’s future placemnt needs. Lionmede workers can provide a much-needed consistent figure until children become settled. A key aspects of Lionmede’s service is accessibility. Carers, including RSWs can contact the team at any time if they are feeling under pressure in their work with a young person and need help. The team works systematically to helping he adults who care for looked after children to provide a therapeutic living environment. The team offers: I I I I

Small groups for foster carers One-to-one consultations Assessments, at various stages of the child’s placement Training both in-house and through links at two universities.

The work is very intense. Staff look at how the child projects, re-enacts and relives the trauma of past events within their new family, and how the family responds. There is also an adoption co-ordinator, who works with adoptive families that are reaching breakdown and usually have exhausted other services. Linking in with other staff at Lionmede, they offer a specialist multi-disciplinary service that works closely with others involved with the family. Lionmede claim considerable success. Last year, 28 families were seen, and there was only one adoption breakdown. Lionmede also offers a psychology service to family centres which informs complex family assessments. As well as seeing children and young people in the centre, Lionmede will see children in the community and at a place of the child’s choice. Some are ready for a ‘clinic setting’ from the start, others need time to build up trust. Younger children are seen as near to home as possible.

LIONMEDE CENTRE

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“The support group has helped us to hang on when there are problems, it’s been wonderful”. Lionmede Foster carer

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LIONMEDE Foster carers’ perspective Mary and Brian have been foster carers for seven years, and in that time have cared for a number of troubled boys of various ages. They are a warm, lively couple, who summed up their philosophy as, “We don’t give up on them when there are difficulties, they are like your own.” “‘The support group has helped us to hang on when there are problems, it’s been wonderful,” Mary said. “They help us to understand what the children are going through”. She speaks with warmth about children who have had very difficult experiences. Several other children had had to cope with the death of a parent. All have complex life histories. The traumatic experiences of the children, have an impact on how they cope with day-to-day living. “When we have a problem, we talk about it at the group, and come out refreshed. They help us to understand why the boys do what they do, and if I can see the reason, I can take another route” said Mary. “As long as you know where they are coming from, you don’t get the hump with them, you can understand, and you can handle it.” In addition to the support group, Lionmede carries out assessments of potential placements. “Every time they’ve done an assessment here they’ve been spot on,” Brian said. For example, when the brother of a child they were caring for came into care, Mary and Brian wanted to foster him too, and it seemed obvious to them that that was the right placement. Initially puzzled when the assessment suggested separate placements, they now recognise that the boy’s needs are so different, and their lively household would not have been the right place for a quiet, reflective child.

Benefits of the support group The foster carers summed up the benefits of the support group as: I Helps us to understand how the children’s minds are working I Gives us an understanding of the children’s past histories can impact on their relationship with us. I Help us to understand how our issues might impact on the care we give to the children. Brian summed up by saying:

“They are doing a great job. I’ve got the utmost respect for them.”

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ESSEX CORPORATE PARENTING A linked but separate service from Lionmede, but still run by Essex County Council, is the Corporate parenting section. This service has been in existence for five years. Starting with one post holder, it has grown and developed, and now consists of three teachers, three project workers, administrative and information officers and an out of schools learning coordinator. Services include; Individual case work with children who are experiencing problems with their education and are at risk of exclusion. Any corporate parent can refer by making a telephone call. Features of the service include signposting, helping schools develop support packages for children and organising the funding to do this

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Setting up alternative education packages for those out of school. The service also keeps a database of all children not attending formal education and each of them is considered at a monthly panel, to try to ‘unblock’ systems and return young people into schools.

Training There is a rolling programme for all corporate parents, including foster carers, teachers, school governors, teaching assistants, social workers.

Project initiatives Some are one off events, for example each child in care received a book of their choice to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. An award scheme which celebrates achievements (PHAT Awards)

GCSE attainment awards There are also programmes the young people can access regarding study skills, revision skills, mentoring, tutoring and computer skills for all those on GCSE courses. There’s a large library of educational aids, books and toys to help foster carers.

“I sometimes feel as if I’m letting the children down, but they explain that their behaviour has very little to do with what’s happening now, it’s their reaction to what’s gone on in their life.” Daryll, Foster carer, Lionmede

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CAMDEN MALT

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About the service Camden MALT is a joint Health and Local Authority commissioned service. It was established in 2004, developed out of a previous social work-led initiative where a multi-disciplinary team undertook very specific parenting assessments for the local authority. When several key personnel left this service, the opportunity for a rethink was taken and, after negotiations the new Camden MALT was established as a health-led provision but with clear links to the local authority. Its aim was to provide a Tier 2 service offering early intervention support to families, consultation for children in need and, where appropriate, following an initial assessment, referral on to Tier 3 CAMHS. Quite quickly, the new service was flooded with referrals and the service was unable to cope; this caused much dissatisfaction within the local authority and health agencies. This resulted in a service review and a shift towards an equal partnership between health and social care, with leadership shared between the consultant psychiatrist and the social work manager. It was recognised that the team had not understood the importance of the time scales imposed on the local authority and that in order to be helpful to the local authority, the service needed to be relevant – that is, it needed to work with the children that the local authority were involved with, including those involved in child protection, care proceedings, and looked after children. As a result of this shift, the main focus of Camden MALT has become those families involved in Care Proceedings. This is an area that is difficult, and historically one that has been avoided by many CAMHS services. The court needs evidence of clinically meaningful change, such as an improvement in parent/child relationships, and the aim of Camden MALT is to provide a clinical service to families at what is usually the family’s last chance to change before a Care Order is made. In court work, there is also now a national drive to limit the use of ‘expert witnesses’ and the model fits well with MALT.

What has worked Outcomes from MALT indicate that some families are able to make use of clinical input to change and keep the family together; feedback from the courts is also positive, noting that the service produces an ongoing piece of work and not a ‘frozen’ piece of work. However, a major challenge is that because MALT is a limited resource, the length of time they can remain involved with families is limited. Some families with very complex needs may need support all the time they are caring for a child, so balancing the long-term and the shorter-term needs is a challenge. When a family has struggled to become engaged, it is also sometimes difficult to end involvement successfully, because they will not go on elsewhere. In its new configuration, MALT has clearly been successful in building up trust amongst the variety of agencies working with young people with often highly complex needs and in chronic situations. Although initially the team found that social workers seeking consultation were ‘playing the game’ in the hope that the child would be seen, now they are seeking consultation from MALT to help their thinking. Likewise, MALT acts as a screening and targeting point for other CAMHS type service, in the area and has curbed the tendency for referrers to make referrals to two or three places at once. A wide variety of factors is seen to have facilitated the successful development of the current MALT service, not least a recognition that emerging difficulties can be overcome. It is important to recognise that services are unlikely to get everything right first time. It is necessary to build in reviews and be willing to change to make services more effective. Other key factors highlighted by staff were having strong management backing, allowing time for the service to develop and to make adjustments as it became established, building strong links to CAMHS and local authority resources, and planning carefully with all partners.

“There often seem to be lots of glass ceilings between services, and we can help families to break through them.” 18


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What makes this service work I

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The personal qualities of staff – the staff need to be able to work with Tier 2 settings and at a Tier 3 level of complexity, which requires staff to be open and comfortable in their own competence. The setting of the service is felt to be important. This service is based within a family centre, with a children’s centre and nursery; many families use the centre for a variety of reasons, so this reduces stigma. A child-centred service. Whatever the legal status of the child, MALT will work with them and their families. A community approach. Children and families are seen in a variety of settings, such as home or school, so the child is seen in his or her natural setting. A commitment to multi-disciplinary working. As one team member described, the team tried to offer the following: “The perspectives of child protection meets psychiatry and psychology. We can therefore help steer the families through the maze of services and span the disciplines. There often seem to be lots of glass ceilings between services, and we can help families to break through them”. A regular use of feedback. This is used to inform policies and practice.

Having started with Tier 2 ambitions, Camden MALT has become a Tier 3+ service in response to local authority needs. The service now works with a smaller group of children and families with higher needs than they had first anticipated, and within the time scales needed by the local authority. An independent evaluation of the service revealed that families who had used the service considered it to be approachable, accessible and supportive, and they liked many aspects of their contact with MALT, even when they had not liked the final outcome. It is also thought that as a result of the work done with young people in foster care and in residential care, the service also now has a better image with some of the young people.

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SOLIHULL LAATCH & CHESS SERVICES

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About the service Joint working at strategic and clinical levels between health, education and children’s services is the cornerstone of the developments for looked after and adopted children in Solihull. There are two distinct strands to the service, the Looked After and Adoption Team for Children – Health (LAATCH), and an intensive fostering scheme, CHESS.

CHESS The CHESS service is an intensive fostering service in Solihull. It aims to enable young people aged between 11 and 16 who are currently placed in expensive residential provision to live successfully within a family in the community. This includes a wraparound service of fostering support, education, life skills and individual and family interventions.

LAATCH LAATCH was set up in 2000 with the aim of increasing stability for looked after children. However in the last seven years, “the partnership has grown in all sorts of directions”. The multidisciplinary team offers a service for all Solihull children and young people in foster and residential care, adopted children and their families, and consultation and advice to social workers for those children and young people. The primary target group are those young people who have, or who are at risk of developing, multiple placement breakdowns. Over time, this aim has been extended to focus on improving the outcomes for looked after and adopted children by: I I I

Focusing on care planning in a multiagency context Planning for permanency Increasing support for LAC with mental health problems.

The types of work undertaken include: Supporting the network around the child to help develop an understanding of the difficulties and provide strategies for management I Supporting individual foster carers and adopters, as well as providing input into training. I Therapeutic work to the young person individually, and with foster carers or adopters and, where appropriate, with members of their birth family I Consultation about life story work I Direct work with children to help them understand their life story and prepare for permanency I Providing signposting to other services. I

Managed by an inter-agency operational group with clear links to health, education and social work teams. There are plans to extend the work to the three to six age range. The intensive programme usually lasts from 9 to 12 months, but some need more time because of the complex issues they are dealing with. There is then a followup service for six months. It uses a very specific theoretical model of treatment foster care, originally developed in Oregan, USA. Understanding the child’s attachment problems and need for firm boundaries, the focus is on looking forward. After an intensive assessment with input from psychology, education, social work and psychiatry, the team develops an individual plan for each child, and gives intensive support to him or her in order to achieve it. All professionals and the specialist CHESS foster carers adhere to the programme, so the young person experiences consistency in every area of their life. Any changes that experience shows are necessary are agreed together. The foster carer plays a crucial role in the process and is contacted daily. Initially working with very tight boundaries and constant supervision, they earn the right to move to a different level where they slowly are given more responsibility. Skills learned at home are transferred to school and vice versa. Within this tight framework the young person can start to organise themselves and learn self-regulation. Many can be seen to physically blossom and stand taller. “The key to the success of the process is good relationships with schools, and everyone else involved in the young person’s life.”


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What has worked Service managers believe that good relationships between key people in different agencies who meet together, bringing different professional perspectives to meet the same goal, are crucial. This integrated approach has brought success. By focussing on one thing at a time, and, when that is successful, moving on to the next focus, services have developed by building on what works. Evidence based practice is the key. “You need to build up credibility and trust, so that it becomes easier to gain approval for the next steps”. Once evidence is collected that the service makes a difference, it needs to be rooted in policy and procedures, so that should all the key players move on, the work would not come to a full stop. It has also meant not being protective about your agencies’ resources, but being able to spend them for the good of children and families. Some of the most important developments were not about spending money, but about having a different attitude and doing things differently. The service has made the most of opportunities to obtain grants. They believe they were successful because they took an innovative approach and demonstrated effective partnership working, such as locating the CHESS specialist fostering service within Health, when traditionally it would have sat in Social Services. Staff feel supported by managers, so this enables them to think creatively and be able to develop services without being afraid to try something new. The personal qualities of staff are also important. “You need to find people you can work with, those with a ‘can do’ attitude”, said the Service Manager. Strategic managers are aware of the need to keep in touch with the difference made to real people. Knowing the details of many of the children the teams work with and the impact the work has had on young lives is a powerful incentive to press on with developments.

“Understanding the child’s attachment problems and need for firm boundaries, the focus is on looking forward.”

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SUCCESSFUL SERVICE?

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10 CHARACTERISTICS OF A SUCCESSFUL SERVICE Examining these examples has enabled us to highlight 10 key characteristics of servIces with successful outcomes. These are not listed in any particular order, but are vital to consider when commissioning or providing mental health servcies for looked after children.

Flexibility Many looked after children have complex needs and do not readily access traditional CAMHS services. Flexibility is the key to providing accessible and acceptable services. One size does not fit all. Joint commissioning Jointly commissioned and jointly managed services. Mental health services for looked after children are at the interface of health, education and social care. Each party needs to understand the systems, time scales and expectations of the others, and have a commitment to working in new ways. Some services had joint commissioning boards, while in others key individual senior managers championed the services, and both were effective. The commitment is more important than the method used. Strong leadership Individuals with vision and a passion for providing relevant, accessible services to help turn around children’s lives and who can enthuse others were a key factor in these services. Engagement Taking time to engage with children and young people whose past experiences have often caused them to mistrust all adults and to battle through life alone. This can take a lot of creative energy and resilience on the part of staff. Long-term work The ability to offer long-term support, where appropriate, sometimes at an intensive level and at other times in a low-key way, is important. Where services are pressured to close cases quickly, the young person’s expectation that adults will let

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them down can be reinforced. Sticking with children and families through the tough times promotes different learning. Holistic Support for the whole child. The schemes with specialist foster carers and education input had good outcomes. Systemic thinking Using systemic thinking to engage all those in contact with the child and family, involving them in planning and helping their understanding of the child’s needs and behaviours. Participative It is important to listen to the young people about what they want from a service, develop formal and informal mechanisms for consulting with young people, involve them in planning services and celebrate their achievements. Evidence-based The importance of evidence-based practice. Evaluation, to ensure that service developments produce effective outcomes, is fundamental. Reflective and responsive None of these services had fixed master plans from the outset. The focus has been on incremental development. Building in processes of reflection and review and responding to feedback from all stakeholders is implicit in their successful development.


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“The resilience of some children and young people is remarkable. In spite of very difficult life experiences, they do not necessarily have therapeutic needs, but all do need stability, love, warmth.�

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What young people think is important

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I

A personalised service that is about our needs rather than our age.

I

An improvement in transition services for young people.

I

A big drive on user involvement.

I

Have an understandig of the point of view and opinions of young people.

I

Ask young people their opinions

I

Think what the impact is if you don’t ask young people for their views?

I

Use real language

I

Empower young people so that they can achieve the goals that are important to them.

I

Be able to access flexible services that meet the real needs of young people

I

Understand the impact of excluding young people.


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Contact Manchester Link 20 French Barn Lane Blackley Manchester M9 6PB Tel: 0161 795 7033

Camden MALT Vadnie Bish House 33-43 Caversham Road London NW5 2DR Tel: 020 7974 3370

The Maple Service Poole Community Health Clinic Shaftesbury Road Poole Dorset BH15 2NT Tel: 01202 584600

Solihull LAATCH and CHESS Chelmsley Wood Primary Care Centre Crabtree Drive Chelmsley Wood B37 5BU Tel: 0121 329 0169

CLASP The Mulberry Centre Rowan Building Darlington Memorial Hospital Hollyhurst Road Darlington DL3 6HX Tel: (01325) 743778, 3166, 3170, or 3744

Please note all pictures posed by models 25


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Acknowledgements Researched and written by: Mary Bunting Design and production: Joanne Summerfield for YoungMinds

Thanks to: all the services that took part in the interviews. Thanks also to Cathy Street who helped edit and advised on content, the contributions of Cathy James and Lee Miller Please note: all images posed by models

Published by YoungMinds 48-50 St John Street London EC1M 4DG Published 2006 ŠYoungMinds, 2006

The moral right of the authors has been asserted. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronically or mechanically, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without either prior permission in writing from the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying. In the United Kingdom such licences are issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency: 90 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4LP. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN 0-9552573-2-8 ISBN 978-0-9552573-2-2

Printed in Great Britain Printed by North New Print, Kempston, Bedford


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48-50 St John Street, London EC1M 4DG Tel: 020 7336 8445 YoungMinds order line: 0870 870 1721 YoungMinds Parents’ Helpline: 0800 018 2138 www.youngminds.org.uk Registered charity no 1016968

Looking after the mental health of Looked After Children  

This publication aims to professionals understand the needs of looked after children. It gives information from a variety of services around...

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